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To Ugandans who bear our cross and make us proud

Masaka Kids Africana

Masaka Kids Africana

Today, we celebrate. We celebrate Ugandans who carry the cross of Uganda with good vibes and honest hard work.

These Ugandans tug at our heartstrings and do not induce national heartburn and loathing. We would happily transverse Kampala’s potholes in a heartbeat for these Ugandans. They include energetic troupes of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, sharing their music and dance videos on social media.

Thanks to these children, two women from Brazil and Venezuela gushed enthusiastically upon learning I was Ugandan. To my cheerful surprise, they did not want to find out if Idi Amin still ruled nor did they want to verify the breathless internet hysteria that homosexuals are publicly lynched on Kampala road.

Instead, they gushed about the dancing children from Uganda and one of them was so enamoured with the children that she believed every Ugandan somehow embodied the fluidity of dance.

I oohed and aahed at her faith before letting her down gently that my signature dance moves consist of vigorous nodding and moves that my children consider great comic relief. Started in 2013, Masaka Kids Africana (MKA) keeps growing from strength to strength with their motto: Dance. Rise. Shine.

Powered by social media, MKA has reached audiences far beyond the landlocked confines of Uganda and carved out a niche with their zany energetic dances and cheerful faces. As of January this year, MKA had 3.7 million subscribers on YouTube, more than 9.4 million Instagram followers, 6 million followers on TikTok and 5.2 million followers on Facebook.

Alongside MKA is another equally famous and beloved troupe, the Triplets Ghetto Kids (TGK) who shot to fame with local musician Eddy Kenzo’s hit, Sitya Loss. On social media, TGK has 7.8 million followers on Instagram, 7.5 million followers on TikTok, 4.8 million followers on Facebook, and nearly 1.6 million followers on YouTube.

Thanks to social media, they have graced international stages and rubbed shoulders with international celebrities - without ‘tusaba gavumenti etuyambe.’

Last year, the TGK participated in the hit show, Britain’s Got Talent, in which they emerged sixth. In 2022, they performed at the World Cup in Qatar charming global audiences. Perhaps we should let go of the football of our fantasies and focus on spreading global cheer through music, dance and drama.

Against the backdrop of everyday Ugandan scene, these children are raw, authentic and revel in their environment, dancing in the dust using makeshift instruments.

On April 30, MKA achieved another monumental milestone when they performed in Barcelona, Spain during a top-flight football match. Kitted out in the Barcelona uniform, they performed their original composition, Habibi during the match between Barcelona FC and Valencia FC. Barcelona FC shared the MKA video on their Facebook page that has 114 million followers - that’s only one social media account. What a splendid way for millions of people out there to get a positive flavour of Uganda!

Yet, there are those right here in Uganda who despise music, dance and drama (MDD) giving in to the inanity that MDD professionals are less than. They patriotically cheer on the dancing kids - but should these kids grow up to be dancing politicians who support ‘the other’, then suddenly, their intellect and creativity will not be good enough.

When they are not looking down on creatives, they bleat like dolts that social media is powerless. The viral videos of these dancing kids and their millions of followers plus the international exposure they have garnered, politely beg to differ.

Additionally, some pretentiously caution against exposing our dirty linen, arguing that in this great age of information and shareable media, reports of dirty linen damage our international reputation.

This assumes that our image is pristine and well-known. False. Our promotional efforts to market Uganda internationally resemble a haphazard pattern drawn by an army of hydrogen drones stroking the horns of a beautiful Ankole cow wearing a facemask. Similar to how the embattled speaker of parliament accused a section of the press of damaging parliament’s reputation yet parliament is doing that superbly with such inelegance.

Despite our self-defeating patterns and lack of strategic focus in selling Uganda internationally, these dancing kids with their raw talent and homegrown cheer sell Uganda so authentically. Uganda with its abundantly youthful population has children aplenty. How about MDD programs for children and young people to harness, sharpen their entertainment talents, and export Uganda to the world?

What if instead of sending our young people to the Arab world as domestic workers, as seen in last week’s column, Bright red flags on the export of Ugandan workers to Oman, we harnessed our effortless ‘parte after parte’ vibes?

Dear reader, here’s to all Ugandans like MKA and TGK, bearing our cross gracefully, carrying over 40 million of us on their feeble shoulders. Such Ugandans deserve all the national medals in the president’s big bag of party favours.

As they carry us, they represent us with such grace, letting their honest craft speak for them. They do not need flashy convoys wailing, “O riffraff Ugandans, see me and my fat privilege, see how I suffer for you but still look moisturized, see my utterly humble sacrifice just beneath my cushy potbelly, fan the sycophantic flames of my thirsty vanity, and serenade my expensively attired ego hourly lest I wither...”

Dear reader, if you seek to carry Uganda’s cross, learn from these children.

smugmountain@gmail.com

The writer is a tayaad muzzukulu

Comments

+2 #1 Lysol 2024-05-12 17:51
Those poor kids in the picture above seem to be suffering from knee effusion.

It could be due to overuse by dancing too much. Kids should be allowed to grow healthy and not be exploited for profit.
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